Question: I am new to Islam and someone gave me a Tasbih as a gift. But I do not really know what it really is or how to use it. Can you please explain?
The Tasbih, Masbahah, Tasbiyah. Tasbih, it is prayer beads. It is not, some people they say it’s worry beads, you know, especially the small ones that the Turks they are using, they are just playing like this. Some Greeks they are doing it. Greeks having Tasbih in their hands because they were with the Ottomans for hundreds of years. They see the Ottomans doing it, they said, ‘we like it,’ then they are also doing it. It is not worry beads. It is not rosary. It is Tasbih. Use the proper words. Don’t use mixed up words! You get mix messages. We have our own words, why are you not using our words? Why you have to borrow other words that have completely different meaning?
So many Muslims now, I hear they like to use so many things that are mixing up. We have our own words and it’s specific. It’s very beautiful. But they don’t like that. They want to say, for example, ‘By the Grace of Allah.’ Grace is a very Christian concept. We have nothing against it, it is good, but it’s just not so important, in that way, in Islam. Holy Prophet (asws) did not use that word. The Sahaba e-Kiram did not use it. Awliya Allah they are not using it. We have words like what? Like ‘Rahmat,’ and ‘Rahmat,’ the meaning is endless and it is so beautiful. Now if you use such words like that, then it has very specific meaning, it’s going to dilute and whatever you are going to say, according to our way of saying it, it’s going to get mixed up. So, don’t say Rosary. Say Tasbih. They say tasbih is kind of like a Rosary, ah, okay, but it’s Muslim. It’s okay.
First the tasbih it is a Sunnat . It is a Sunnat. It is something that was approved by the Holy Prophet (asws). The earlier Sahabi, the Ahle Suffa, they had tasbih also. They used the tasbih as a way to pray, to worship, to recite a certain number of things. In the old days, they even throw stones to the middle as a Tasbih. For example, they say, ‘we want to repeat this phrase, SubhanaAllah – Glory be to Our Lord.’ They have to say it 33 times. So instead of counting it with the fingers, which is okay you can do it too, but having something else is better. Because when you use your fingers, I’ve never seen anyone, when they are sitting down talking, using their fingers to make zikr. Because it’s just very silly. When you are talking and you have tasbih in your hand, you can talk and you can make Salawats. It makes sense, it’s very beautiful. I’ve never seen someone they are making Salawats and they are talking, one hour, two hour and they are doing this, they are doing this (Hoja counting his fingers). I met some wahabbis, they say, ‘Alhamdulillah. I’m making a sunnat. I’m counting my fingers. I don’t need Tasbiyah.’ Because you don’t like it.
So it has a history. The Sahabis were using it. Some of them, they had a string and they tied knots on that string to pull it. When Holy Prophet (asws) was involved in the Battle of Uhud and he lost some of his teeth, in that battle when his teeth became syahid, Hz Uwais al-Qarani in Yemen when he heard that, he said, ‘how can my beloved one be hurting so much and lost two of his teeth and I who love him so much have my mouth full with teeth.’ He took out all his teeth, 33, and he made it into a beads, to pull a tasbih.
So, how are you going to use it?
Have your tasbih. You can do it anytime, especially after prayer. Don’t bring your tasbih now into the bathroom. Don’t bring into dirty places. Otherwise you can have it with you at all times. You want to use it, it’s to remember Allah, it’s to remember your Prophet. What are you going to do? You are new to Islam, you don’t know nothing too much, it’s good. Sometimes it’s best not to know nothing except for some good things. You don’t know anything, you can only say Allah, then say Allah. Hold the tasbih and say, ‘Allah, Allah, Allah, Allah, Allah, Allah, Allah.’ You only know BismillahirRahmanirRahim, then say, ‘BismillahirRahmanirRahim, BismillahirRahmanirRahim, BismillahirRahmanirRahim…’
There are so many things that you could repeat, that you could count, and you can use the tasbih for. And it is important, insyaAllah, to do that. So many Muslims I know, especially in South East Asia, they are very concern about what other people think, because they are very sensitive, mashaAllah. So many they are not so concern when they are doing wrong things. They are very brave to do things that is against, maybe against to Islam, maybe against to Sunnat. But when it comes to doing something that is Sunnat, they get very shy and very embarrass to show, because they say, “no, no, no, no…if I do it. I’m going to be accused of boasting, bragging, showing. So I’m not going to do it. What if people are going to say, ‘oh why you have your tasbih outside? You are trying to show off!’” Why you care?
First please your Lord. Care what your Lord is thinking, what He is saying. Don’t try to please everyone around you.
Hoja Lokman Efendi Hz, Khalifah of Shaykh Abdulkerim el Kibrisi (qs) * OSMANLI DERGAHI New York
January 23, 2015